Fight Club: PRO ran its third event of 2019 on Friday, with International Tekkers boasting a stacked card.
Only one match involved performers that are local to the promotion. Of course, what it means to be local to Fight Club: PRO is broader than the usual promotion, as Fight Club: PRO runs a training school that has become a magnet for pro wrestlers from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada looking to further their career by moving to the United Kingdom.
For the uninitiated, Fight Club: PRO is the closest that Britain has to PWG. Co-owned by WWE UK wrestler Trent Seven, it runs monthly events in Wolverhampton that showcase both local wrestlers and those from Japan, Mexico, and America. Like PWG, it is often seen as primarily a live event promotion, with a combination of dream matches, top-quality action, and comedy making for a great live experience.
However, 2019 has seen Fight Club: PRO finally take the VOD plunge, with them launching the Fight Club: PRO Unlimited subscription service, having previously only made its events available for individual purchase.
Historically, Fight Club: PRO had been closely identified with the three men who make up British Strong Style, however throughout 2018 they were de-emphasized, before losing a “losers leave town” match in December. Instead, the big dividing line has been Chris Brookes’ Schadenfreude stable and their battles with promotion co-owner Martin Zaki and their attempts to take the title from the woman who seized it from Brookes -- Meiko Satomura.
Schadenfreude is comprised of Brookes, Kid Lykos, Jonathan Gresham, Timothy Thatcher, Kyle Fletcher, and Mark Davis. WALTER had previously been a member but was removed last month, probably as part of The Ring General reducing his non-WWE/wXw commitments.
While the event wasn’t quite sold out, the first time that has happened for a Friday show in their new venue, it must have come close with The Hangar being very busy. It’s also worth noting that the presentation has received another upgrade with the ring entrance now boasting a three screen set up very similar to wXw, and more wrestlers now having “TitanTron” style entrance videos.
Chris Brookes (w/ Kid Lykos) defeated CIMA
Brookes defeated CIMA by making him submit to the Octopus Hold. This was a surprising result considering that CIMA has always been booked strong when making appearances in Fight Club: PRO.
The story of the match was Brookes repeatedly feigning a knee injury to both disrupt his opponent’s momentum -- and to distract the referee so Lykos could attack CIMA. Currently away from the ring due to an injury he suffered in January at PROGRESS, Lykos seemed pretty much back to full fitness, including being able to do a dive to the outside.
Much like Brookes' match against Ryusuke Taguchi at Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Uprising show last year, while the action did not hit the heights of his tag team matches, this was a fun match where the Brit carried himself as a superstar.
Dan Moloney defeated Timothy Thatcher
Having somewhat disappeared in 2018, Moloney is looking to re-establish himself after his WWE UK contract ended. This was a good showcase for him, as he hung in there with one of the world’s best.
As one would expect from a Thatcher match, there was a lot of striking and submission wrestling exchanges. Moloney got the surprise submission victory with a leglock, after the promotion’s colorful producer, G-Man, distracted Thatcher to continue their feud. It looks increasingly likely that Thatcher and G-Man will meet in the ring.
Sendai Girls Junior Champion Millie McKenzie defeated Charli Evans to retain her title
This was the only match of the night that was between two people based in the West Midlands, with Evans being one of the many Australasians who have come to Wolverhampton to train with Fight Club: PRO.
While she’s been booked more as an underdog in PROGRESS, across the Midlands, McKenzie is one of the most popular wrestlers, with her trademark being a style based around hitting lots of suplexes a la Brock Lesnar. Having only just finished junior college, McKenzie has started to spread her wings internationally -- recently appearing in both Germany and Japan. During her most recent Japanese tour, she won the Sendai Girls Junior Championship.
This match was booked following Evans attacking McKenzie after she defeated Yuu last month. It was very much fought as a grudge match, with both wrestlers frequently exchanging short punches and elbows. They also brawled on the outside, which given their height, meant stretches of the match weren’t visible to most of the crowd. Still, they worked hard, putting together an intense match that McKenzie won with her trademark spear.
After the match, Evans and McKenzie seemed on the verge of reconciliation, before the emcee announced that Fight Club: PRO would host Sendai Girls' first-ever UK show on Saturday, July 27 in Manchester. That means the UK will have both major Joshi promotions run shows in conjunction with local promotions within a month, as Stardom are working with Pro Wrestling: EVE for Wrestle Queendom II on Sunday, June 30.
The Besties in the World (Damian Vega & Mat Fitchett) defeated The Anti-Fun Police (Damien Dunne & Santos), Grizzled Young Veterans (Zack Gibson & James Drake), and The Hunter Brothers to win the Fight Club: PRO Tag Team titles
This was initially framed as The Hunter Brothers issuing an open challenge for their Tag Team titles, which was surprisingly answered by the NXT UK Tag Team Champions, neither of whom have a preexisting relationship with Fight Club: PRO.
Naturally, Zack Gibson cut a brilliant promo, which was one killer line after killer line. Highlights included him noting that Fight Club: PRO proves that “you can indeed polish a turd” and that 90 percent of the crowd only come because they “want to shag the wrestlers at the after party” (Fight Club: PRO is famous for fans and performers going to The Giffard pub for drinks afterwards).
Before the match could start, The Anti-Fun Police, who have gone from being a Right to Censor-esque heel gimmick to one of the more popular acts on the British circuit, and Besties in the World, who were warmly received when they’ve previously appeared in Fight Club: PRO, added themselves to the match.
This was the type of crazy multi-person match, which for better or worse depending on your tastes, Fight Club: PRO is famous for. There were lots of big moves and dives, as the sheer number of men involved meant the action never had to slow down. There was also some comedy, as with the match being worked under rules where only two men were legal at any one time, Santos and Dunne had to work through the implications of them being tagged into the match at the same time.
The Besties in the World ultimately secured the victory and the titles by pinning Dunne. This was a lot of fun, and will presumably set up The Hunter Brothers looking to avenge their loss.
Rey Horus defeated El Phantasmo
This was originally scheduled to be Horus vs. Jordan Devlin, but the Irish Ace was pulled from the match the morning of the show, for unknown reasons. El Phantasmo was the obvious replacement, especially since he had already announced on Twitter his intention of being at the show.
This was El Phantasmo's first time appearing for Fight Club: PRO since New Japan Pro Wrestling began airing the vignettes which both teased his forthcoming debut and hinted that he would be aligned with Bullet Club. That was built into his presentation throughout this match, with him not only now donning a leather jacket -- but also frequently using Bullet Club mannerisms.
In many ways, this was probably a more natural pairing than the advertised match, with both men adept at hitting big high-flying moves. The end came after both men were on the top rope, and Horus managed to hit a rolling super powerbomb for the victory.
Daisuke Sekimoto defeated Kyle Fletcher (w/ Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos)
Before the match began, Brookes tried to persuade Sekimoto to lay down for Fletcher and join Schadenfreude. It was a funny promo, which referenced the fact that both men had been in Germany for last weekend’s wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament, with Brookes even talking about lending Sekimoto his phone charger.
Sekimoto rejected the offer, though he wasn’t quite able to tear the Schadenfreude shirt -- which I suppose is a testament to the high quality of the merchandise.
If you have not seen Sekimoto in person, then you cannot appreciate how huge a man he is. Fletcher did very well to look credible against one of the widest, most muscular men in pro wrestling. Having turned down his heel mannerisms for his excellent match against Will Ospreay at the previous month’s event, Fletcher was back to being the sniveling coward that he’s proven surprisingly adept at playing since he turned heel back in June.
Despite Brookes and Lykos being ringside, the interference was kept to a minimum as the two men had a very good match that Sekimoto won with a bridging suplex.
Mark Davis defeated Meiko Satomura to win the Fight Club: PRO World Championship
This was Meiko Satomura’s sixth visit to Wolverhampton in 18 months, having first made the trip to lead her Sendai Girls team in an unsuccessful defense of their Chikara King of Trios title, at a weekend of events hosted by Fight Club: PRO. For the first time since British Strong Style triumphed in that memorable final, she would taste defeat, as Davis won an epic contest to bring Satomura’s 11-month reign as Fight Club: PRO World Champion to a close.
For a promotion that is often (unfairly in my opinion) criticized for its crowd not taking matches seriously, this was a heated encounter with the overwhelming majority of the crowd cheering on the champion. The match was a war, with both competitors laying in hard strikes throughout. Davis is one of the hardest choppers in pro wrestling -- up there with both WALTER and Pentagon Jr., both of whom he’s faced within the past six weeks. Meanwhile, Satomura’s kicks make Daniel Bryan look like The Miz.
They brawled across The Hanger, with Davis bleeding from the forehead after being dropped on the ring apron. He was also put through a table, with Satomura countering an attempted super powerbomb to the outside into a running Death Valley Driver.
It seemed that Satomura was on course to win, hitting two axe-kicks as she tried to put away her larger foe. Davis collapsed before she could hit a third, with the referee preventing Satomura from pressing her advantage. Davis regrouped to hit a sit-down piledriver for the victory.
Schadenfreude celebrated Davis’ victory in the ring. When they got to the back, Davis cut an impassioned promo that speaks well to his ability to grow into the role of being a singles champion.
After they left, the rest of the roster came down to ringside to give Satomura a guard honor, with everybody in The Hangar applauding her for both the great matches she had as champion and her crucial support for the promotion’s recent show in Japan. In a surprise move, Trent Seven made his first on-camera appearance at a Fight Club: PRO show since December to embrace her on the entrance ramp.
It was an emotional end to what was another great show from Fight Club: PRO. And in many ways, this was just an appetizer for next month, where they hold the third Dream Tag Team Invitational tournament that will feature (among others) PAC & Eita, LAX, and The Lucha Bros.
Fight Club: PRO International Tekkers 2019 will shortly be available as part of the Fight Club: PRO Unlimited Streaming Service which can be purchased for approximately $8 at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fightclubprounlimited. Their next live event is Fight for Destiny, which takes place on Thursday, April 4 in Queens, New York.